Lifespan of a GFCI


Old 06-22-08, 02:22 PM
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Lifespan of a GFCI

My GFCI to the hot tub just started tripping. I can individually select different components on the tub to cause the tub to trip. I drained the hot tub and just refilled it (for a different reason). When the tub came on, it immediately tripped. The only things that run when it starts up is a recirc pump and the heater. I disconnected the recirc pump, and the GFCI will not trip. I turned on the other two pumps, good. I turned on the air blower and it trips. I opened the box up and everything looks good. I recently replaced the mother board on the tub, so I know that's in good working order.

So, I suspect the GFCI, however that's a very pricey item (240V - 60 AMP). The GFCI (and hot tub) is about 5 1/2 yrs old.

Any ideas or other suggestions that I could try to determine the source of the problem?


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Old 06-22-08, 03:11 PM
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You could put a 4 watt incandescent bulb in series with the grounding conductor of each of the suspect components; if it lights there is a short to ground.

If no short, put one (or several) 4 watt incandescent bulb(s) in series with a milliammeter in series with the grounding conductor (the bulb(s) acts as a constant current source and hopefully prevents blowing the meter' internal fuse if a short to ground suddenly appears).
Measure the current and compare it to the trip current specification of the GF device.

For minimum GF protection, >4 mA should trip in <10 seconds.

There are discrete sources of leakage (good or bad motors, bad refrigerators) and distributed sources of leakage (moist degraded wire insulation and inter-conductor cable capacitance), and resistive or reactive leakage.
Old 06-23-08, 10:01 AM
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When a GFCI breaker fails it usually cannot be reset at all; if it resets and then trips when you hit the test button it's probably okay. They don't typically exhibit the kind of intermittent failure you're describing. That would lead me to believe that there is some sort of short inside the tub components or controller. Could just be some moisture or condensation too.

Are the problem pumps 120V? If so, you could fashion a test cord and plug them into a standard GFCI receptacle to see if that trips.

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